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All Revved Up: Should Churches Practice Activism By Protesting Trump's Immigration Policies?

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In this Oct. 26, 2017 photo, 2-year-old David Carvajal plays in the hallway of the Holyrood Episcopal Church in northern Manhattan. David and his two sisters, all U.S.-born, and Carvajal's mother, a Guatemalan immigrant living illegally in the United States since 2004, have lived in the church since August when their mother Amanda Morales sought sanctuary from immigration authorities seeking to deport her to Guatemala.
Kathy Willens/AP
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1204revs.mp3

The Bible encourages its followers to "love your neighbor as yourself" — and, across the country, some churches are taking that message to heart when expressing opposition to President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

According to USA Today, 32 congregations are currently housing immigrants facing deportation. By doing so, they may be putting church leaders at risk of arrest and jeopardizing their church's tax-exempt status.

Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio to discuss activism in the church and why more congregations haven't stepped forward to house immigrants at risk. Price is a professor and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail.

Monroe said many churches have shied away from taking stances that could be seen as political.

"We haven't messaged enough with our congregations the reason why we need to take in the stranger," Monroe said. "A lot of the times these churches don't want the risk of seeing immigrants, and they see that as more of a progressive, Democratic cause as opposed to a Christian or person taking a moral high ground."

"It is the right thing to say and do. I think that when you actually have to walk that walk and realize the cost that will come to you in doing that, it resonates very, very differently," Monroe added. 

Price says many churches have shifted away from social reform.

"People go to church now to get what they need to get from church, not to give what they can give to the church, to the community, to the neighborhood and to the neighbors," Price said. "What many of us are preaching has moved away from what we call a social gospel to this sense of trying to create calm and peace ... but also this notion of healing and hope."

Click the audio player above to hear the full segment.

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